A public adjuster based in West Long Branch risks up to 10 years in a state prison if he's convicted of trying to bilk the New Jersey Manufacturer's Insurance Company out of $15, 452.

Joseph Shammah, 39, owner of Northeast Claims Group LLC, was indicted by a grand jury in Trenton on counts of second-degree insurance fraud, third-degree attempted theft by deception, fourth-degree misconduct by a corporate official and fourth-degree false swearing.

Shammah became embroiled in a sting that New Jersey's Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor dubbed Operation Home Makeover, aimed at rooting out deceptive dealings between public adjusters and insurance companies. Public adjusters serve as hired go-betweens for property owners and insurors during damage-loss assessments.

The indictment alleges that Shammah took stock of a house andissued false statements about damage between April 1 and August 3 of last year, seeking more than $15,000 from NJM.

Prosecutors also allege that statements given to undercover detectives indicate Shammah's knowledge that the claims were false.

The second-degree charge, along with a possible 10-year prison term, carries fines of up to $150,000 on conviction. Third-degree charges carry maximum sentences of five years and fines as high as $15,000. Fourth-degree offenses involve prison terms up to 18 months and fines up to $10,000.